THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell filed his candidacy for re-election today, saying employment in Toledo has grown by 6,100 people since he took office.
The politically unaffiliated mayor submitted 1,388 signatures to the Lucas County Board of Elections, becoming the third of an expected seven candidates to turn in their candidate petitions to be on the Sept. 10 primary ballot.
"We took an administration that came in in 2010 with the worst budget ever in the city of Toledo. We have not only been able to balance a budget but we have a $5 million surplus," Mr. Bell said. "I think we've done a great job under adverse situations."
He took office in January, 2010.
Campaign spokesman B.J. Fischer said the number of new jobs in Toledo was taken from a state Department of Labor report that compares total employment in the city at the end of May, the most recent count available, with January, 2010.
Mr. Bell's emphasis on job creation appeared to be a response to opponents who are running campaigns focusing on job creation and economic development initiatives. Mr. Bell, however, had little specific to say about economic development, and said he would continue doing what he's been doing.
"I think if we keep doing more of the same - getting more police officers, getting more firefighters, fixing 61 miles of road - I think we're going to be okay," he said, adding that fixing the city's infrastructure is a top priority. "I don't think we have to change the plan. I think we have to increase the plan to make sure our city becomes one of the most stable cities, not only in the state of Ohio, but in the United States."
The inactive Marina District project he defended as having brought $3.8 million to the city's general fund through the sale of the city-owned property to Chinese investors in 2011, and he said he's confident that it will be developed. He said other parcels have remained undeveloped longer than the Marina District and little is said about them.
Mr. Bell responded to criticism from one of his Democratic opponents, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who said that the sinkhole collapse on Detroit Avenue last week revealed his administration has not been transparent, and that when she called the city water department a recorded voice told her she was the 30th person in line. Ms. Lopez has vowed to have live people answer all phones if she is elected.
He said that he has been warning council since 2010 about problems with the city's aging sewer system but that council declined to act. He said he could assign enough people to answer every phone call, but said it would be costly and not efficient, and said citizens were clear in 2009 that they did not want their taxes raised.
"I think that sometimes she just doesn't get it. We don't have unlimited staff to do things. When we started doing things we could not afford we got into that $48 million deficit," Mr. Bell said, referring to the deficit the administration said it was facing in order to balance the 2010 budget.
As unfinished business, Mr. Bell said that he wants to stop using capital improvements funds to balance the general fund. He said if he is re-elected he would focus on trying to communicate better.